Monthly Archives: August 2003

TOO MANY BULLETHOLES

A Film Review of “S.W.A.T.”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

“S.W.A.T.” was originally a spin-off of the ABC TV series “The Rookies” that ran for a season in the mid 1970s. It’s not exactly prime mining material for a major theatrical release and yet somehow this got made.

Everyone in the cast are professionals who must have been blackmailed to be in this mess. I’ve lost a degree of respect for Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell and L.L. Cool J for their participation in S.W.A.T. but I suppose they must have gambling debts or alimony that begs to be paid.

One cast member who hasn’t made the best decisions in the past with Blue Crush and Resident Evil is Michelle Rodriguez. She is an actress to watch even though she was in this mess. If you want to see her really act check out Girlfight. Despite bad script choosing she’s good.

Others who must need work include cast members of the original TV series who make cameos. Rod Terry plays the father of Deke who he played on the show. TV veteran Steve Forrest plays the same character he played on the show even though Samuel L. Jackson plays him in the movie. Have I mentioned how bad the script is?

The stupidity of the script by Ron Mita is outlandish. I figure the only people who enjoyed this movie were drunks who wandered into the theatre halfway through and then passed out. There are so many bulletholes in the plot you could drive a T3 crane through it. Don’t even get me started on there being five thousand manholes in a five block area in Los Angeles or that you can land a Learjet on a car bridge. Did anyone read this script before making it?

The director responsible for this dreck is Clark Johnson. Although he is a veteran of TV cop shows he apparently has no sense of the action film genre. His use of digital video was annoying and served no purpose. Maybe he thought this was a sequel to Blair Witch. How did he get this job? How did he get any job?

The previews show a movie that is highly watchable, very entertaining and action-packed. Apparently this movie advertised is only about as long as said preview. Avoid S.W.A.T. at all costs.

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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

A Video Review of “K-Pax”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (1984, to be precise) we’ve seen this before. It was called Starman and coincidentally starred Jeff Bridges and in one of his better performances too. It was also in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and in any Morgan Freeman detective thriller from the 1990s. There’s hardly anything original in this flick except for some flat deadpan alien acting from Kevin Spacey.

We’ve got the alien on Earth with his childlike wonder and simple solutions to problems. We’ve got the cast of crazy characters that inhabit the mental hospital. And when things get heavy we’ve got a mystery on our hands. Three different movies all in one bundle. It would have been much better as one flick.

If you have two hours on your hands and don’t mind a flick that can’t decide what it wants to be this is the movie for you. The ride is bumpy but enjoyable.

The above previously appeared at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/

For more of my movie reviews check out:
Comic Widows at
http://www.comicwidows.com
or the Internet Movie Database at
http://www.imdb.com
or Yahoo! Movies at
http://movies.yahoo.com

CRIKEY!

A Film Review of “Crocodile Hunter Collision Course”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

I have to admit up front I have a soft spot for Steve Irwin. Any guy who picks up one of the world’s deadliest snakes by the tail and its head is trying desperately to latch onto his groin and the guy has the balls to say, “Kids, don’t try this at home!” This guy has my respect.

The story is pretty simple. A satellite containing top secret surveillance info crashlands in the outback where Steve, wife Terri (who has the patience of a saint) and dog are filming wildlife segments for their Animal Planet program. Croc eats satellite, Steve relocates croc, C.I.A. follows, hilarity ensues.

The great thing is nowhere does Steve break character from his tv show, he’s constantly talking to the audience the entire time. It’s charming, it’s different and vastly entertaining. Lotsa deadly animals, lotsa close calls and lotsa laughs, don’t miss this – I think, the best family flick of the summer so far.

KILL THIS GUY ALREADY, PLEASE!

A Review of “H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Just when you think only Stephen King gets the short end of the stick when they adapt the written work for the big screen along comes another Lovecraft movie, this one based on a story just a few pages long. How do ya mess that up? It’s easy, watch.

Remember that guy, that annoying guy, who always gets horribly killed right away in old 1980s slasher flicks? The guy you know deserves it? The guy you really wanted to see get evicerated by Freddy or Jason anyway? The arrogant pain-in-the-ass guy with the bullseye drawn on his chest?

That guy is the star of Dagon. He’s the main character. I don’t think I’ve wanted someone to die so much in a movie outside of a Tom Hanks or Robin Williams flick in a long time. I was rooting for the fishy monsters and their aquatic Lovecraftian god from about ten minutes in. I’m yelling at the screen “Get him!” That’s how obnoxious and annoying this guy was.

Other than that, it’s not bad, good 1960s type horror story, not too horribly dubbed from the Italian and nice adequate special effects. Worth a rental for the workout your lungs will get yelling at the screen.

The above previously appeared at Project Popcorn a defunct cinema website by the folks at Jersey Diner Arts

http://www.jerseydinerarts.com

GOD BLESS KEVIN SMITH

A Video Review of “Planet of the Apes” (2001)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Here’s what you have to do to enjoy this movie: forget the original movie from 1968. In the words of Tim Burton, “This is a revisiting not a remake.” As pompous as that sounds and as much as I hate Tim Burton as a person (he has great vision and has made a few wonderful films but in my opinion the man is an asshole), it is sound advice.

Re-imagining equals same concept but a different story. Mark Wahlberg working with experimental primates at a deep space station follows one of his test chimpanzees through a cosmic storm and ends up on a world where apes dominate and humans serve.

The make-up in the 2001 film is as advanced and sophisticated for today as 1968’s was for its day. So real and flexible are the ‘masks’ that the acting of Helena Bonham Carter and Paul Giamotti is positively phenomenal. Emotion and performance come through as if it were their real skin. Every actor is completely unhindered by the apelike visage.

The same can be said of the rest of the apes’ physical appearance from reactions to simple things like walking and running. The battle scenes are marked by the apes’ ability to leap and run on all four limbs. In many ways this is an amazing film.

Tim Roth and Michael Clarke Duncan do excellent turns as villains to Mark Wahlberg’s usual hesitant hero. I wish he would choose a heroic role that’s a definite hero for a change. I know he can pull it off, you know it, I just don’t think Mr. Wahlberg does.

We are also treated to few bonuses that stand out. In a cameo appearance as an ape, Charlton Heston, star of the original Planet of the Apes, recites one of his famous lines in a sly bit of irony. Also impressive is the concept of ‘humans’ rights’ in a sarcastic nod to P.E.T.A.

* SPOILERS *

The ending. Good God. Let’s talk about the ending. Forget the last five minutes of this film. It’s crap and ruins every other logical minute of the film.

In the end Marky Mark leaves the planet of the apes and by all rights and story logic should have returned to his space station in own time. The movie should have ended when his ship blasts off. But it doesn’t much to my dismay.

He lands on what appears to be Earth, Washington D.C. to be precise, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which of course is a monument to General Thade. He is promptly assailed by ape police officers and then we go to fade and credits.

A scene very similar to this appeared in a “Jay and Silent Bob” comic book by the genius Kevin Smith quite some time before this movie started production. When pressed by reporters Burton stated that he had never read a comic book, especially one by Kevin Smith, maintaining the bad blood between the directors since Burton rejection of Smith’s brilliant script for the Superman Lives film project.

Kevin Smith’s perfect response to Burton’s statement? “Well, that explains Batman.” God bless Kevin Smith.

Back to the movie. Good special effects, better story logic than the original and some excellent action sequences. That said, 2001’s Planet of the Apes is a great flick, excepting the last five minutes. It’s probably not going to birth a bevy of sequels like the original though.

Rating: ***1/2

***** Must see

**** Worth seeing

*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…

** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?

* A bullet would be quicker.

The above previously appeared in a much shorter and much less interesting form at the late lamented Project Popcorn website at:

http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/

WHO WANTS TO BE AN ACTOR?

A Video Review of “Lisa Picard Is Famous” also known as “Famous”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This mockumentary about a young actress on the brink of breaking through to stardom has a lot of wit and a lot of promise. Unfortunately it never lives up to its promise and the wit gets old real quick. It would have made a really great twenty-minute film.

Seeing as it was written by Nat DeWolf who also acts in the film and directed by Griffin Dunne also an actor one has to wonder what the point of it all is. It seems to be an actor-bashing piece about how vapid and stupid actors are. Maybe this is why Dunne doesn’t act all that much anymore.

As far as the film’s intended interpretation of actors goes Laura Kirk as up and coming Lisa Picard is dead on as are the rest of the cast. There are some interesting cameos by real actors who I don’t think knew what this movie was up to. Lisa Picard Is Famous hates actors as much as This Is Spinal Tap hates heavy metal. The only problem is this flick isn’t very funny.

It also seems to have an axe to grind about independent filmmakers. The point I got was that indie filmmakers are as vapid and stupid as wannabe actors. This is a really depressing film for those who want to be those things. For everyone else it’s mildly amusing.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES or THE NEON BATMAN ON BROADWAY

A Video Review of “Batman and Robin” (1997)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I sincerely hope to someday read Joel Schumacher’s obituary and somewhere in that obit I hope to read the words “beaten to death by Batman fans.” Joel Schumacher is single-handedly responsible for the death of the Batman franchise for Warner Brothers and yet he still works there. Will wonders never cease?

Mister Freeze. He is a formidable criminal genius whose comics history stretches back to the 1950s, his origins only recently being uncovered as science gone mad in an attempt to cure his true love from a frozen tomb.

Poison Ivy. She is the nihilistic beauty whose kiss kills and controls deadly plants.

Bane. He is the designer drug induced superman who in the comics broke Batman’s back and sent him into hiding.

Any one of the above would supply appropriate angst and plot to power any one Bat-movie. We get however all three in watered down form. We also get watered down subplots in Batman and Robin’s constant bickering, the introduction of the new Batgirl (a character that bears no resemblance to any DC Comics character by that name) and Alfred’s fatal illness. Why couldn’t this film just be about one thing?

George Clooney is okay as the caped crusader. He’s really just doing himself in a batsuit though. You can tell he and Chris O’Donnell were all about signing the checks this time around.

On the villain side Uma Thurman actually makes an interesting Poison Ivy even when bending the camp-o-meter with her puns and bad Robert Smith imitation. Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Mister Freeze, for lack of a better phrase, runs hot and cold for me. At times his menace is perfectly brought across and the rest of the time he is belittled by his cold-related taglines. Icy doom, indeed!

The worst, the absolute worst, is Alicia Silverstone. As the both perky and pudgy Batgirl she delivers her lines with all the skills of Jan Brady trying to be Marcia Brady. Ick!

Besides the non-acting, the aimless plots and the exceeding camp we have Joel Schumacher’s trademark that he has left on the Batman franchise: homoeroticism. There’s no such thing as a bat-codpiece and the batsuit does not have nipples!

Damn you, Joel Schumacher!

STANDABLE

A Video Review of “Big Daddy”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Over time I have developed a reputation for hating Adam Sandler. This is not necessarily so. Having perused the Adam Sandler video library (Oh my God, there is an Adam Sandler video library) I have discovered one or two films that don’t make me retch.

Big Daddy is one of these – it’s not that bad. First of all it features Adam Sandler’s real voice instead of one of his ‘funny’ ones. This has a lot to do with it. I mean, I’m sure crap like The Waterboy (with one of his ‘funny’ voices) is playing on a loop in Hell.

The presence of Joey Adams helps here as does the chemistry between Sandler and five year old Cole (and Dylan) Sprouse although I’ve always suspected he related better to five year olds. Even though there are scenes played completely for your average Sandler toilet humor there is a genuine bond between the two and it makes you actually start to root for the hapless Sandler.

It’s standable if your legs are broken and the TV remote is lost – but only if it’s not followed by The Waterboy.

… OOOH, WE GOT MORE THAN FINGERED…

A Video Review of “Freddy Got Fingered”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Tom Green. Hmmmmm. Adam Sandler is actually watchable in comparison. I liked Road Trip and I loved Charlie’s Angels. I could stand Tom Green in those flicks. This made me want to puke.

Drew Barrymore (I love you Drew but how did you stand being married to this mutant??) had to be in it because she was married to this freak at the time. Anthony Michael Hall, Harland Williams and Julie Haggarty have never really been known for their film choices. But what the hell is Rip Torn doing here??? I can only guess he has some sick twisted dark secret that Tom Green has photographic proof of.

Marisa Coughlan may be going places, she shines as the girlfriend but her career (if she has one) will always be scarred by this role. She has the funniest line, but unfortunately the most self-debilitating and tasteless.

Think. Imagine the most tasteless things that can be filmed in an R-rated movie. It’s here. And it will make you sick or angry. If you see this on sale at you local video store, buy it immediately, it will make an excellent tape to record “Friends” and “The West Wing” on when you’re not home. Rating: *

***** Must see

**** Worth seeing

*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…

** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?

* A bullet would be quicker.

The above previously published at

Project: Popcorn

http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/

For more of my movie reviews check out:

Comic Widows at

http://www.comicwidows.com

or the Internet Movie Database at

http://www.imdb.com

or Yahoo! Movies at

http://movies.yahoo.com

Contact me at

monsura2@yahoo.com

IT NEVER LETS UP

A Video Review of “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

John Carpenter rarely disappoints when it comes to the action genre but sometimes it’s stuff we’ve seen before. This time though it’s a little more obvious than usual. John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars is a reworking of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 just on Mars. It never denies what it is – a straight ahead action suspense flick – and at that game it is phenomenal.

In the future cops and criminals trapped in seemingly deserted Mars settlement are stalked and hunted by barbaric humans possessed by the spirits of evil maniacal ultraviolent Martians. They fight their way out. Chaos ensues. The story is simple and the action and suspense never lets up long enough to allow you to think about how cliched or nonsensical it is. This is a good thing. Other than we’ve seen it before the plot suffers from one major flaw. It is told in flashback so before it happens we know how it ends. That in itself is disappointing.

Natasha Henstridge is an adequate action heroine but it’s a real joy to see Pam Grier back in that saddle. Natasha suffers in the shadow of the real action mistress. The men involved are no slouches either. The Transporter’s Jason Statham is an excellent counterpoint and interesting sidekick to Henstridge and rapper Ice Cube is dangerous but heroic and sympathetic criminal Desolation Jones.

As usual Carpenter does the electronic score. Perfectly reflecting the pace and energy of the film I think this is one of his best since They Live or The Fog. Like the action the music never lets up. The make-up is a top notch nightmare of the pierced generation as the humans once possessed have a penchant for ‘interesting’ body adornment.

There are little details that make the story enjoyable like the fact that Mars is ruled by a matriarchy. The intricacies of this are never fully explored but there’s not much time for philosophy in this flick. We never really do find out why the bad guys are bad but that’s okay. I kind of like the whole mystery of an undecipherable alien race.

See it for the action and forget that it seems so damned familiar.

Rating ****

***** Must see

**** Worth seeing

*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…

** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?

* A bullet would be quicker.

The above previously appeared in a slightly different form at

Project Popcorn

http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/